There are those people in life that you can go months without seeing and somehow pick up right where you left off. Those people who know you so well that it kind of scares you but at the same time make you feel comfortable to be known. Those people who encourage and support whatever you’re aspiring for, but also inspire you to do a little but more than you think you can because they believe in you. Those people who love you in the most authentic and life-giving ways. Those people who become your lifelong friends.
I hope you have those people. If you don’t, I pray you find them soon. I pray you would be led to relationships and community that you can call “home.”
I’m incredibly thankful to have a community of those people with some of the greatest gals in the world – my college best friends. All of us met early on freshmen year and stayed close through celebrating birthdays, becoming roommates, traveling with each other, studying, and doing all of the life things together. It was glorious to live less than 5 minutes from such amazing people for 4 – 5 years. However, college graduations led to re-locations and everyone moved to different cities. After a few weeks apart, it was decided a yearly reunion was 1000% necessary.
Last weekend, we had our first ever, much needed, ladies reunion weekend (we’re still working on a creative name). The weekend was filled with food (and a ton of it), long conversations, games, rest, pictures, drinks, laughter, the sharing of memories and the forming of new ones. It was refreshing, good for the soul, and filled our hearts.
Our little rental home was in Innsbrook, MO. The house had more windows than walls, a huge table where we could eat together, was surrounded by trees, and had a deck right on a small lake (with a finishing boat… and yes, we all fit on the boat). It was an amazing place for seven ladies to have a reunion!
So here’s a recap of our weekend.
On Friday, we all drove from our respective cities (Kirksville, Omaha, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Cedar Rapids were represented) to meet at Innsbrook. We had a slow evening of catching up while waiting for everyone to hurry up and meet us. Every time a friend arrived, it was a chaotic flurry of loud screams, jumping up and down, and big hugs. It was amazing. The house had twin beds in a nook, a king bed, and a queen, so when we got tired (which was hours earlier because we all wake up at the crack of dawn, but the adrenaline kept us awake) we split to our places and then stayed up even longer talking.
Saturday morning felt like Christmas morning. We were all awake and together on the couches by 7 a.m. (SEVEN A.M.) Our bodies were all so used to being at work by 8 a.m. (or earlier) that sleeping in was not even close to a thing. We shared a huge pot of coffee and had a slow morning. Kaytlin and Leah made breakfast for everyone, which was chocolate chip pancakes (in the shape of our initials), bacon, and sausage… YUM.
Sitting around the table sharing a meal was one of my favorite parts of the weekend. This is how a meal typically went: someone would say something to make another laugh, the next person would take that joke a little further to get another laugh, and the next thing we know the joke has been beaten into the ground and repeated in five variations but everyone has laughing tears forming so you keep it going for as long as possible. So basically it was the best thing that could have happened.
When our tummies started hurting (unsure if it was from all the pancakes or from laughing so hard) it was 9:15 a.m. and time to go outside and explore. We first intended to go on a walk, but saw that our little rental home had a fishing boat. So of course, we spent time rowing around the lake/pond/giant puddle (we’re still debating what it actually was). There were a few close calls where the boat may have almost flipped, but we all fit and as always, more pictures were taken.
After floating around in the boat, we took our walk and ended up at finding a little Center we could explore. There was a wedding getting set up in the Center (it looked like it was going to be beautiful!) so it was a mutual, unspoken agreement we would stick to hanging outside (we were all blessed with loud voices.) Seeing as our pattern for the weekend tended to be to move as a group, sit, start talking, and then move as a group, sit, start talking (etc.), it wasn’t a surprise we ended up hanging out on the big patio and chairs. Kaytlin talked about her upcoming wedding, others talked about jobs, and life was sweet under the sun.
After a while at the Center, we headed back to the home for lunch. We popped in a movie (My Best Friend’s Wedding) and I got started on lunch. I cooked up a big pot of Vegan Beer Chili (a recipe by one of my favs, Minimalist Baker). The chili was filled with beans, tomatoes, peppers, onions, spices and then topped with hot sauce and avocado. A perfect weekend lunch if you ask me!
After lunch, the afternoon was slow. Between dozing off on the couches, reading books, and talking, we enjoyed each others company all day long. When it got close to dinner time, Joslyn and Sam started working hard. They went all out for their fiesta dinner which included a taco bar with the works, chips and salsa, and our favorite…MARGS. Jose Cuervo never lets us down. After dinner, we spent the rest of the night sitting around the big table talking.
One of the coolest parts of our weekend was the conversations. Of course everyone talked about the updates from their lives, but we also talked about marriage, christianity, friendship, scientology, musicals, mormonism, sex, culture, the church, health, fitness, and so many other things. The conversations were anything but surface level. The space was open to ask questions, share opinions, and have good discussion. To me, this is the kind of community that encourages learning and growing.
After dinner, we ended up back on the couches (of course) and watched the only thing we could find on TV, West Side Story. The night was spent talking, singing, and slowly falling asleep.
The next morning, we slept longer than the day before and to a solid 8/8:30 a.m.! The morning was spent with more coffee and breakfast from Allie and Nat! They pulled out all the stops for breakfast burritos complete with eggs, potatoes, and all the toppings. They also had bacon and fruit, so basically an excellent spread.
After breakfast, the clean up and packing began. After getting the space back to what it was supposed to look like, we pushed off goodbyes for just a little bit longer. We decided to start a book where each of us writes a little blurb about our life complete with information like where we’re living, fav food and drink, go-to song, what we’re doing, what we’re hoping for, and a high and low/prayer. Then, each year we will add on to this so we can see how we’re changing and how the Lord is moving.
After the book entries, we took a few more group pictures (the self-timer got a lot of action this weekend), packed up our cars, and finished out the weekend with a big fat group hug and some prayer. As we all got in our cars and drove away (well, Jos’ car needed to be jumped so Nat and Sam came to the rescue) my heart was so filled to the brim. It’s weekends like these that can give you the peace and rest that your soul needs, the strength and encouragement to take on things of this world, and the friendship and community that your heart needs on a regular basis. Though these weekends are rare (and we’re hoping for one a year), we are thankful and have committed to making them a priority.
Nat made a video of the weekend and it’s gold. Photo credit goes to Natalie, Leah, and myself.